Kaydon Leach, the child, went missing from his Blount County home, prompting a search effort that consisted of about 100 first responders and local officials, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, K-9 teams, Blount County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, and a Black Hawk military helicopter. Volunteers also partook in the effort, officials had said.
The team searched about 2,000 acres starting at around 7 p.m. About 22 hours later, Kaydon was located about 2,500 feet from his home in Top of the World Community at 3:30 p.m. the next day, according to local reports.
However, the rescue workers were called heroes for finding the boy. Instead, it was his dog, Chula.
Chula, a terrier, guarded the boy and apparently kept him safe until the others could find him, WBIR reported.
“The dog actually growled at the rescuers when they approached Kaydon,” Blount County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jeff French told the news outlet.
The boy was later taken to the hospital and was apparently fine.
“We’re so thankful to everyone, from local law enforcement agencies to volunteers, who helped us find Kaydon. The amount of support we have received has been tremendous, even from people we don’t even know. We appreciate all our friends and neighbors, and ask for privacy at this time,” said the boy’s family to the local outlet.
One of the rescuers who found the boy, Blount County fireman Aaron Woods, said that he spotted the dog first.
This is the dog that was guarding 6-year-old Kaydon Leach when a search crew found them this afternoon. The boy & his dog were missing overnight in the rain for 22 hours. @wbir https://t.co/FJBpJfjNCp pic.twitter.com/gsKeMTR1mt
— Melissa Erickson (@mel_erickson) April 24, 2018
“I keep saying he popped up. To me, he did, because I had just looked over there,” Woods said. “What I got to him, the dog was kinda giving me a little growl like ‘who are you?’”
The boy was wrapped in a jacket and was later carried out of the woods before he was taken to the hospital.
“I was grinning from ear to ear. Even afterward, after we got down to our debriefing and all the way home,” Woods said. “I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff in my life, in my career, and this is the good stuff. This is the good stuff.”
Bear Saves Boy?
“He’s good! He’s up and talking. He’s already asked to watch Netflix,” Casey’s mother, Brittany, said after he was found.
Breanna Hathaway, who identified herself as Casey’s aunt, also said the boy told his family he was with a bear for two days.
“Casey is healthy, smiling, and talking. He said he hung out with a bear for two days God sent him a friend to keep him safe,” she wrote on Facebook. “God is good God. Miracles do happen”
Casey was playing with two other kids in his grandmother’s backyard in Ernul, North Carolina, when he vanished, Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes told USA Today.
Harsh weather that included heavy rains and winds impacted the search for the child.